TORONTO- Ontario residents aged 60 and older will be eligible for a fourth COVID-19 vaccine dose starting Thursday.
The province says First Nations, Inuit and Metis people and their non-Indigenous household members aged 18 and above will also be eligible for a second booster shot at that time.
It says the fourth dose is being offered at a recommended interval of five months after the initial booster shot.
Appointments will be available to those who are eligible through the provincial vaccine portal, some public health units, Indigenous-led vaccination clinics and some pharmacies starting at 8 a.m. Thursday.
“As we continue to live with COVID-19, we are using every tool available to manage this virus and reduce its impact on our hospitals and health system, including by expanding the use of booster doses,” Health Minister Christine Elliott said in a statement.
Fourth doses are already available to long-term care and retirement home residents and immunocompromised people in Ontario.
Plans to expand second booster shots were expected after the National Advisory Committee on Immunization advised provinces and territories to prepare to roll out fourth shots in the coming weeks.
The committee is recommending provinces prioritize people aged 80 and older and long-term care residents, and strongly recommends fourth doses for people between ages 70 and 79.
NACI says it’s still studying whether second booster shots are necessary for younger adults and adolescents.
Meanwhile, the latest wastewater data released by Ontario’s science advisers on COVID-19 suggests infections in the province are almost as high as in early January, when Omicron was at its peak.
The number of people in Ontario hospitals with COVID-19 was up nearly 40 per cent Tuesday compared with a week earlier.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2022.